Delights of a Garden

by Mark Carlin

Sun rises over Danby Mountain in an exquisite display of crimson orange bringing the promise of a warm day filled with the simple pleasures of country living. My pleasure in these waning summer days comes from the Earth and her bounteous harvest. A teacher of mine once said, “The most revolutionary act you can do is grow a garden”. I have given up my marching and raising of fists and instead help tend the many gardens here at Sweetwater Sanctuary.

I love the way blueberries grow so close together, the way they ripen in little clans on individual stems and the playful way my fingers teasingly coddle their release as I tickle them into falling for my cupped hand. The sun drenched juicy ones nearly jump free while the younger ones among them resist the caress as adolescents often do so their maturing can be done on their terms – not quite ripe, maybe tomorrow.

I love the sturdiness of raspberry canes, the way, unlike tomatoes, they yield to being fondled and rearranged within their trellis and contain that strength of character in being flexible yet sturdy with a strong backbone. Certain varieties consciously decide whether to fruit in their first year or patiently wait through a whole frozen winter to call forth the bees and then abandon themselves to fruiting as if there was no tomorrow.

gardenI love how cucumbers, even in such a wet summer, grow and grow, slug free, until they beg to be made into pickles which I learned to make this year. Then there are green beans climbing so high on their poles reminding me of Jack-in-the-beanstalk as I bring a tall ladder to pick the ones who have grown out of my reach. Harvesting potatoes is like finding treasure as each forked clump of soil is turned and potatoes appear. Then there are the pears who after ten years have decided to bless us with fruit – how exciting to eat the first of these long awaited precious gifts.

The delights of a garden and growing your own food – knowing exactly what you are eating and what love and care went into its growing – so simple and yet so profound.